Gavin Henson will be given every chance to earn a Wales World Cup spot – if he can measure up to his Super League and NRL counterparts.
Henson has yet to make his rugby league debut after joining League One battlers West Wales Raiders for 2021.
He is expected to make his bow against Widnes in the Challenge Cup next month, but despite his 13-man inexperience and the fact he has just turned 39, he has already been touted as a bolter for the autumn’s World Cup.
Wales boss John Kear has not ruled that out and has already identified one area where Henson would add to his team. Kear said: “When you speak to the Welsh players it’s amazing how high an esteem they hold him in.
“That’s obviously because they are rugby union fans as well as rugby league players and he was a great.
“Should he be able to come somewhere near that he’d obviously have to come under consideration.
“One of our problems that we’ve had in recent years has been goal kicking – if he’s playing then you wouldn’t miss many goals would you? He’d certainly solve one of our little problems. You’ve got to have a look at him and see how he goes.
“There are some exciting players coming through the Welsh systems, established players like Rhys Williams, Elliot Kear, Gil Dudson and Ben Flower, and we’re flying the flag for players like Bradman Best and Caleb Aitkens in the NRL. I think we can out a really competitive team together.
“But if Gavin Henson is playing well enough to warrant a place in the squad, why not pick him?
“So long as it doesn’t do us any harm performance wise, it would certainly do us a lot of good media wise.”
Kear is hopeful that Australian-born duo Best and Aitkens will add to an already potent backline including Williams, Kear and St Helens flyer Regan Grace. Manly three-quarter Will Evans is another option, though Best’s World Cup participation might lie elsewhere.
Kear added: “Our manager is in touch with him every fortnight – he speaks to Bradman’s mum most and she’s very keen for him to play, and he obviously is.
“But anybody who’s seen him play – if he has a stellar season like he did last year, he might be wearing the Green and Gold of Australia.
“I’m hoping he doesn’t play quite well enough for that because he’ll certainly be welcome in a red shirt of Wales.”